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Ron King

Ron King at his studio

Ron has had an artistic life that spans a multi faceted and inspiring 70 years.  His iconographic work is marked by a distinctive, fresh and often pioneering approach. As an artist his work can’t be pinned down to by genre but it is hallmarked by a distinctively curious, questioning and energetic approach.

Born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1932, Ron still has a strong attachment to the country, its culture and a particular fascination with the infamous bandit leader Lampião and his notorious gang. Sent to school in England in 1945, he later gained a scholarship at Chelsea School of Art for his painting; going on to win several art awards.

In 1956, he and his wife, sculptor Willow Legge, emigrated to Canada where he became art director at McLean Hunter publishing house. In 1960 Ron returned to the UK with his family to paint for his first one-man show in Toronto.  He then took a post to teach at Farnham School of Art where he started printmaking. This led to a contract, in 1964, with print publishers Editions Alecto. Unable to publish his first book ‘The Prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales’ with them, he followed through the project himself and formed Circle Press.
By 1969, Circle Press was established as an active, productive workshop in Guildford with a group of like-minded artists and poets to create limited edition artist books, poster and prints. Success came (of the enterprise) and continued when Ron and the press moved to London in1988 to set up shop in the epicentre of the West Indian Carnival district in Notting Hill. Here the workshop and presses stayed for the next 25 years with an ever growing number of poets like Roy Fisher, George SzirtesRichard Price and artists John Christie, Ian Tyson and newcomers Karen Bleitz, Sam Winston and Victoria Bean, contributing to its output.
Lectures, exhibitions and tours in the UK and abroad culminated in 2002 with the purchase of the press' complete output and archives by the Paul Mellon Foundation at The Yale Center for British Art in New Haven Connecticutt. A similar collection in the UK was donated in 2013 to Cardiff University under the umbrella of Scolar.

Today Ron is considered one of the modern day masters of artist books.  He and his collaborators have built up a considerable body of work, producing over 200 publications and individual works, most of which are held in major public and private collections worldwide.

Ron is also a painter collagist and sculptor. We invite you, on this visit to the studio today, to explore the breadth of his work and demonstration of his skill and inventiveness; all of which mark him out as a truly original all-round artist. 

Further reading:

If you would like to know more about Ron you can visit his artist’s website

If you would like to see the publications of Circle Press visit

If you prefer paper and would like a book please order: ' The Looking Book' 1997 ISBN 0 901380 717 or 'Cooking the Books : Ron King and Circle Press 2002 ISBN 0930606965 (catalogue raisonne)


Photo credit: Nadia Mackenzie